Good For You

In A Car Accident? Get All The Information

So, my friend Sarah got in a car accident yesterday. Don't worry, she's perfectly fine, and the car is running smoothly. But it needs some serious body work. Well, the rest from Sarah:

"I was at an intersection turning left, and I stopped short for a pedestrian that appeared in the cross walk (scary how they sometimes do that!). The car coming into the opposite direction (whose lane I was blocking by turning left) hit my back passenger wheel well. There are just some panels that will need to be replaced, but it all took me by surprise. Luckily, I'm not at fault.

So here's where my money-saving idea comes in. I knew the drivers should exchange information, but I didn't know what information was important. I ended up getting his name, phone number, and driver's license number (which turned out to be incomplete).

Because I don't have any detailed information on this guy, he can claim that he wasn't involved in the accident (it was someone else with a similar license number). If he is uncooperative, then I'm responsible for my deductible towards the body work. (If he's cooperative, and his insurance company agrees it was his fault, then I won't have to pay a cent.)

So, if I had known what information was important, I wouldn't have to worry about paying the deductible. Am I making sense? Maybe my brain got a little rattled 😉 Either way, the necessary information seems to be: license plate number for the car, driver's license number for the driver, and insurance company of the driver. Just a way to save the deductible (if you're not at fault)."

Good advice Sarah. My friends are so smart!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Using Words To Get What You Want

As I prepared for my last French class tonight, I got to thinking about different if slightly unrelated French topics that I wanted to wrap up tomorrow. One concept I wanted to touch on was the subjunctive which is a difficult verb tense in French for many people. I was thinking that the only time I ever use the subjunctive is to sound smart to native French speakers. (Interestingly, I am not one but that is a story for another day.)

There are examples of two verbal devices I can think of that I conciously use English to sound smart that I've been wanting to write about for a while. Giving away my secrets? I'd like to think of it as helping people, or probably just verbalizing something you already know intuitively.

The "Yes…and" Technique

I first read about this in Real Simple but I find this is a useful device to draw people out. The example they use:

Actor 1: "I made a blueberry pie."

Actor 2: "Yes, you made a blueberry pie. And you remember the last time we had blueberry pie?"

Actor 1: "Yes, I remember. We took a picnic into the woods, and that's when you said you wanted to join a nudist colony."

The yes and technique is primarily used to get people talking. Sometimes, for example, I'm interviewing someone and they're not saying much. By acknowledging what they've said previously (yes) and urging them to elaborate (and), I usually get a lot more information out of people. Knowledge is power!

The Dangling "So…"

This is going to sound mean but this is a technique you can use to get what you want. I believe I read this in Real Simple but I was unable to find the original article.

The basic premise is that most people are uncomfortable with silence. The other premise is that we like to subconsciously finish other people sentences, or help them out. Here's an example I've made up (kind of a bad one but you'll get my point):

Friend: I can't cook dinner tomorrow.

Me: Oh, well I have to work late tomorrow and I really don't have anyone else to ask so…(pause)

Friend: You know what, maybe I can do it. I'll just go to the gym early!

The idea is to let this so dangle in the air as long as possible until the other person answers you. Most people will feel compelled to answer when they are expected to. I have used this a few times and from what I can remember, the response has been in my favor.

What the heck does this have to do with money? Dealing with people is all psychology, my friends. Next time you're stuck talking to someone at a call center or haggling at the local market, give these two ideas shot, and let me know how it goes. I bet it will go better than you think.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Good For The World: Send Some Love To A Soldier

I first "met" Roger Keene (AKA Roddy) via email through my job at the newspaper. Roddy is a CPL in the US Army, but is ready to pin on the rank of SGT any day now. He is currently stationed in Fob Kalsu, in Iraq.  He had left a comment on our newspaper website and was trying to organize people to send care packages to troops. I was impressed by his above and beyond dedication to his project and I wanted to let more people know about it.

How and why did you decide to take on matching stateside civilians to deployed soldiers?
I have been stationed in the Phillippines, Korea and Japan in my Marine Corps years and I really know what letters from home mean to people. There is a lot of media attention paid to the military actions here (in Iraq) and in Afghanistan and, as expected, it is not all positive. I know a lot of Americans feel proud that we are going to such lengths and at times going there with such a personal expense.

I just wanted to cut the filter of the middle man and hear directly from those people that support the Americans that work so hard every day. It's good to hear from "home", from the states and from people that are aware that we are here I guess.

Since we last talked, what kind of response have you gotten? Too much, too little?
The resopnse has been overwhelming!! My wife and I have dedicated many long hours to making certain the soldiers I work with are recieving some sort of mail. My wife continued sending addresses well after my deployment as e-mail requests have popped up.

Does sending a package to a soldier really make a difference?
I think so, I mean it does to me. I saw a package this week from the VFW in Harrington. I know absolutely no one there, but they sent me stationary to write home, some hard candies that I handed out and I'll tell you this… I smiled the whole time I was handing out candy. Then I went home and wrote my wife on stationary that was all nice.

Yes it helps a lot, but I am not really looking for packages and free stuff… I simply put this together in order to allow my peers here to hear from Mainers and other good people and get postcards from Acadia, hometown newspapers etc. Just something to say that someone thought of us and cares.

If I'm interested in sending a soldier a package this, how do I get ahold of you?
I am giving out my e-mail address and responding (or my wife is responding to be honest) as soon as we can.

I'm stuck on what to send. What are some great things to put in a package that I wouldn't necessarily think of?
Baby wipes, beef jerky, and letter or postcards to send home I think are the best. If I'm on a 20-60 hour mission and I get hungry, slim jims and beef jerky are the best thing ever. I like to write so postcards and stationary are also great.

What are some other ways we on the homefront can help?
There are so many organizations out there asking for stuff to help with. These are great organizations, but just let me say this. Contact your local VFW or Auxiliary. Find out who from your community is out here with us and just send a hello, a newspaper or something simple and inexpensive. It's about knowing people care. Do that and I bet you make somebody's week a whole lot better!!

When do you come home? What's the first thing you want to do when you get there?
I promised after I let my little girl beat me up I would buy her a fun hat and I promised my wife that we would ride the motorcycle through Acadia. I am going to rent a log cabin on the water and just sit back for a minute and take in the "home" that I have been missing.

So if you want, send Roddy an email and he'll hook you up, or check out your local military organizations. Because sending a package (mine was around $20) is the least we can do!

Some tips from the US Postal Service…

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Ask And You Shall Recieve

I had taken over the french press in our company breakroom after the employee who owned it left. I made my coffee many days a week and it was a happy frugal little ritual.

Last week, it broke. Ugh.

I looked at a few local discount stores (which seemed to have everything but a french press) and was about to buy a new one at the fancy kitchen store down the street when I went into the breakroom to get my lunch.

"Did you find a french press yet?" one of my coworkers asked.

"Nope, but I'm going to go get one today!" I said. Then someone else piped in.

"Oh, I have an extra one if you want it. I'll bring it by, I never use it anyway!"

Then that same day, my friend G was mentioning how she needed a phone and asked a friend of hers if he had an extra one. And he did.

So twice in less then 8 hours, the belief  "ask and you shall recieve" was proven. Maybe when we need something we should all ask around first, not just on Craigslist but among family, friends, and colleagues. And now we live in a society where it's becoming socially acceptable to do that!

Have you asked for something recently and actually got it? Do share!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

How To Get Things Done Fast

I was talking to my friend Randy yesterday and he mentioned this book he was reading about being super productive. "What's it called?" I asked. "How To Get Things Done Fast." I would have never picked out a book like this in a million years; I'd rather get things done well then fast plus the whole thing sounds really gimicky, at least at first glance.

The basic idea is that initially (usually in a few seperate sessions) you write down everything that is preoccupying you and eventually empty your brain. After having things down on paper, you divide things logically into tasks and projects. Things that take less then two minutes, you do right away and you organize everything else in order of importance.

Randy realized that all the ideas he had been thinking of over and over that seemed really kind of random and unrelated were actually all working towards the larger goal of making money back to pay his student loans.

The idea of emptying your mind and working everyday with a clean slate allows you to (apparently) be superproductive. And organizing ideas as they happen takes discipline but keeps you from mentally spinning your wheels about the same old stuff.

I have a sticky note on my Google homepage for those exact thoughts during the day (library books due January 27, pay cell phone bill) but I think a great cleaning out of my brain and an organizing of these thoughts would be pretty fantastic. Despite seeming organized and carefree, I actually spend a lot of time spinning my wheels mentally about money and other matters as I keep revisiting thoughts.

So the book is "How To Get Things Done Fast" by David Allen if you are interested but if you want to dip your toe into the pond of this organizational system before diving in:

Visit David Allen's website…
Do some David Allen brain cleaning out exercises…

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Eight Necessary Objects To Be Ready For Winter

You may have heard or even experienced yourself the record cold in the northeast United States. Bar Harbor set a record on Friday and I've experienced my own personal cold  as well.

The furnace in my apartment is randomly shutting off. It happened three different times this week. My landlord has been trying to fix the problem, including last night when I called him around 10:30 after getting home from a friend's house. At 3 am, I finally woke up and felt the heat on again.

If it's one thing I've learned this week, it's that having a few things on hand is really helpful.

For Snow

Shovel

A plastic shovel with a flat blade is most useful in removing snow in that it's light, easy to stow, and picks up more snow faster then its garden-y cousin. On snowy days, I bring it with me in my car in case I happen to get snowed into my parking spot. Also handy for when the plow has left a big pile of snow at the bottom of the driveway that you can't quite drive through. Cost: $5-$10

Salt
Rock salt, which is just really big crystals of sodium chloride is cheap enough by the bag to keep on hand. You can share a big bag with a friend or two. If you're in a pinch, you can also use table salt which does the same job of lowering the melting point of water as the fancier rock salt, it's just a little more expensive. One town actually recently used expired garlic salt to deice their roads! Cost: $5 for a big bag

Car brush
A plastic brush with a scraper and a brush is necessary for both the ice and snow aspects of winter. You want a long enough handle to be able to reach half way across your windshield. Tip: Access the brush on the passenger side of the car, that way when you open the car door the snow falls on the passenger seat, not where you need to sit to drive. Cost: $1

For Warmth

Mittens
Putting your hands on cold steering wheels or door handles is not the way to stay warm in the winter. I keep one pair of mittens in the car at all times just for this reason. Get them from your favorite thrift store or knitter! Cost: $5

Candles
I have a working fireplace but since I'm scared of setting fire to things, for the moment I only have a pile of candles in there. Sometimes I light them for ambiance but have to blow them out soon after because of the amount of heat they throw off. Friends joked around that I should start burning furniture but hopefully it won't get to that! Cost: $10-20 for a bunch of candles

Wool Blanket
Last night, the wool blanket over my head kept things toasty until the heat came back on. I've had this blanket for years and say what you want about wool being a little scratchy but that blanket is warm and durable! Try an army-navy supply store for a cheaper version. Cost: $80 retail, but you'll have it forever

Wool Socks
I have one pair of SmartWool socks and last night, they were on. If your hands, head, and feet are warm, I think it is possible to sleep when it's cold. You can go the homemade route if you are talented or know someone who talented in the knitting department. Cost: $8-10 (for SmartWool)

Heat Pack
Back in the day, people used to go to bed with a warm brick. Now we have more comfortable options. My grandmother made us all heating packs for Christmas and I threw mine in the microwave for a few minutes and brought it to bed with me. Alternatively, you can drag your dog into bed with you. Another warm body does help things out…

Hopefully my heat stays on but if not, I have a few tricks to stay warm!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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